The fastest way to search Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

I Type 2000 Words A Minute... Uh Yeah
I Type 2000 Words A Minute… Uh Yeah by Bill Shaner licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

If you write about or follow breaking news in 2015, you need to know how to quickly search social media. Every second counts, especially when have to try many search words or phrases. On a laptop or desktop computer, one of the quickest ways to search Twitter, Facebook or any network is to use Chrome’s address bar.

If you don’t already use Google’s browser, download Chrome now. There, that’s better.

Google calls its address bar the “omnibox,” presumably because it does so much. For example, if you type words into that box and hit Enter, Chrome will bring you to a Google search engine results page. That magic box even works as a basic calculator for the math-challenged reporter.

I’ll show you how you can teach that omnibox to search Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Continue reading

Facebook Messenger asks for ONLY FOUR extra permissions

Facebook Messenger App
Facebook Messenger app by Kārlis Dambrāns licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Facebook Messenger app for Android asks for exactly four permissions that aren’t already required by the main Facebook app. If you’re worried about the social network accessing your phone, focus your concern on the  main Facebook app. It asks for 10 more permissions than Messenger.

I decided to dig a little after the Messenger app attracted more scrutiny this week. Security researcher Jonathan Zdziarski described “spyware type code” he found after disassembling and examining the iOS app’s code.

The Google Play store lists each app’s permission, so I compared the full list of permissions for the Facebook app and the Messenger app. I didn’t compare the iOS apps because Apple’s App Store does not itemize each app’s permissions.

Messenger permissions

The Messenger app requires 33 permissions. Here are the four that aren’t already required by the main Facebook app:

  1. edit your text messages (SMS or MMS)
  2. receive text messages (SMS)
  3. send SMS messages
  4. receive text messages (MMS)

Continue reading

Imagine being Facebook for just one user

Facebook for real by Christoph Aigner
facebook_for_real by Christoph Aigner licenced under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Being Facebook can’t be easy. People complain whenever you make a change. Users are upset when you ask permission to get your job done. No matter what you try, your customers groan about how you decide what will show up in their News Feeds.

I’m sure I could do a better job than Facebook’s algorithms, so follow me as I step into the social network’s shoes.

I slip on my new sneakers and, before I can take a step, Mary comes to visit.

Forty-year-old Mary is one of my 829 million daily visitors.  She’s coming to look at pictures and videos from her 200 friends and 70 companies she “likes.”

I want to keep Mary happy. I want her to come back. I need to show her what she wants.

Continue reading

Facebook Follow doesn’t follow its own definition

Banksy in Boston by Chris Devers licensed by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Banksy in Boston by Chris Devers licensed by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen was upset yesterday about Facebook’s Follow function, which lets users see other people’s posts without becoming their friends. Rosen wrote a short Facebook post about how journalists and other “content creators” can’t tell which of their followers see their posts. “Facebook decides that. How is a mystery,” explains Rosen. “Relevance. Algorithm. Beyond that, you’re left clueless.”

More than 180,000 people follow Rosen on Facebook. Following is not the same as an email subscription, where each subscriber gets every message sent. Delivery of each post is at the mercy of the social network’s algorithms, so Rosen’s posts aren’t shown to all of his 180,000+ followers.

Facebook “busted” a deal with content creators, says Rosen. It’s a deal that he once understood to be:

“You don’t whine about working and producing for free, we give your stuff distribution to the people who have elected to receive it.”

I can’t confirm that such a deal was ever made, but here is an interesting entry from Facebook’s answer to the question, “What does it mean to follow someone?

Straight from the horse's mouth
Straight from the horse’s mouth

That looks like a subscription to me. Facebook’s definition doesn’t include a qualifier before “their posts.” It doesn’t say “some of their posts” or “many of their posts” or “a selection of their posts.” It says that I will see the posts of the people I’ve decided to follow.

What do you think? Did Facebook break its deal with you when you chose to Follow someone? Do you want to see every post from every person you Follow?